<p>Monica sings during the BET Awards' Whitney Houston tribute</p>
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Monica sings during the BET Awards' Whitney Houston tribute


Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Whitney Houston gets tribute from Mariah Carey, Brandy, mom at BET Awards

Cissy Houston was like whoa

There was a high probability of showers (of tears) during the 2012 BET Awards, during the tribute for Whitney Houston. And the late singer got 'em, with presentations and performances from a round-up of Mariah Carey, Brandy, Monica, Chaka Khan and Whitney's mother, Cissy Houston.

Carey stepped out in a surprise appearance at the ceremony, recounting how she and Houston were rumored to be in a "rivalry" throughout their career. Carey kept it classy, speaking of the last time they lunched together. And then came the crying. Monica Brown -- aka Monica -- and her previously so-called rival Brandy then came out, the former taking on gospel-drenched "I Love the Lord" and the latter killing it on "I'm Your Baby Tonight" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody."

Then everybody went, "Oh, yeah, Gary Houston."

And then there was Cissy Houston. Houston's mother, who was influential and essential to Whitney's rise, development and cadence in fame, has maintained a strong presence in the media since Houston's passing in February. Since that time, Cissy announced she was releasing new gospel tunes (four of them, in May) and that she was writing a memoir about Whitney's "true story," That book will arrive next February, undoubtedly close to Whitney's death-date.

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<p>Kanye West and Jay-Z at the BET Awards</p>

Kanye West and Jay-Z at the BET Awards

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Watch: Kanye West debuts 'New God Flow' rhymes during BET Awards

Jay-Z pulls a Kanye West on Kanye West's acceptance speech

The BET Awards broadcast went on for three-and-a-half hours, but a good 20 minutes of it seemed to be -- as is often the case with Kanye West appearances -- the Kanye West Show. In during the Show, West debuted some much-anticipated new material.

In an effort to amp up his forthcoming G.O.O.D. Music compilation, Weezy took the stage with 2Chainz, Big Sean and Pusha T at first to help tackle "Mercy" and "Too Cold." But then at the end, West went rogue into a capella mode for a big verse from forthcoming "New God Flow."

Even after delivering the line about Kim Kardashian from "Too Cold" -- with Kardashian in the house -- West is feeling even more name-droppy.

"Went from most hated to the new God flow / I guess that’s a feeling only me and Lebron know / I’m living 3 dreams, Biggie Smalls, Dr. Kings, Rodney Kings / 'cause we can’t get along, no resolution / Till we drown all these haters, rest in peace to Whitney Houston," Kanye rhymed. "Welcome to Sunday service if you feel you Sunday service / I got green in my eyes, follow this Erick Sermon / Did Moses not part the water with the cane / Did Noah make the arc when I made it rain / Did Yeezy not get signed by Hov and Dame / And went to Jacob’s and made the new Jesus Chains / In Jesus name, let the choir say / I’m on fire, aight, that’s what Richard Pryor say."

No clue what the full beat sounds like, but Pusha T will also be featured on the track, according to Ye's website.

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<p>Divine Fits</p>

Divine Fits

Song Of The Day: Divine Fits is 'Nice,' combining Spoon with Wolf Parade

Supergroup puts Britt Daniel, Dan Boekner and New Bomb Turks' Sam Brown

I wasn't sure how I felt about the first offering from the Divine Fits -- the trio-combo of Britt Daniel (Spoon), Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade) and Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks) -- but now I think their forthcoming full-length might be rather nice.

"Would That Not Be Nice" definitely scratches the Spoon itch, after the new-wavey minor discotheque of initial offering "My Love Is Real." That latter tune will be up for purchase as a single on July 31 with exclusive non-album B-side "I Was Born In A Laundromat." My Love Is... Clean?

The new, as-yet-untitled album from Divine Fits was produced by Nick Launay (Public Image Ltd., Killing Joke, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and will be dropped "later this year" via Merge.

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<p>Skrillex</p>

Skrillex

Skrillex and M83 contributing new music to 'Spring Breakers' and 'Oblivion'

Prominent electronica artists lending a hand to two very different films

Two prominent dance-electronica musicians -- Skrillex and M83 -- have been tapped to contribute new music to two very different films.

The former, Grammy Award-winning artist will be dropping the bass all over "Spring Breakers," the James Franco-starring film from the director of "Kids," Harmony Korine. In an interview with Pitchfork, "Spring Breakers" music supervisor Randall Poster revealed that he and Korine rang up Skrillex after checking out some good, old-fashioned YouTube clips.

"I had heard of Skrillex, but I wasn't watching it that closely. And Harmony, who I've worked with forever, sent me a link to some Skrillex YouTubes, and I saw one had 54 million hits -- I thought he had somehow figured out a way to manipulate the numbers. And then it dawns on you: There are kids that are never going to buy a record," Poster said in the biggest "duh" ever. "They're just going to play songs on YouTube."

Poster recently helmed the music for Wes Anderson's "Moorise Kingdom" as well.

"Spring Breakers," due in 2013, co-stars Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Harmony's wife Rachel Korine as the inexplicably hot quartet in the film, as "four college girls who land in jail after robbing a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation find themselves bailed out by a drug and arms dealer who wants them to do some dirty work." The flick is in post-production, and we assume Skrillex won't just be hitting "play" on some of his B-sides.

Meanwhile, the man behind my No. 1 favorite song from 2011, M83, will be scoring the entirety of "Oblivion," the next sci-fi adventure from Joseph Kosinski. The "Tron: Legacy" director told the Playlist he'd been thinking of working with the Anthony Gonzalez-fronted act since even before that reboot.

"I was listening to his music back in 2005 when I first wrote ['Oblivion'], so he was part of this from the very beginning in my mind, kind of creatively. And about two years ago, when I started putting together a shortlist of people I'd love to talk to for this project, I sat down with him and we talked about it," he said. "The story has a small cast of characters, it was designed as kind of a character-driven story, but at the same time it takes place in a vast world. So I need a score that is both emotional, but at the same time can feel big and have a lot of space in it. And his music has that."

"Oblivion's" cast of characters includes Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Melissa Leo. Its synopsis:

Jack Harper (Cruise) is one of the last few drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying threat known as the Scavs, Jack’s mission is nearly complete. Living and patrolling the breathtaking skies from thousands of feet above, his soaring existence is brought crashing down when he rescues a beautiful stranger from a downed spacecraft. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he knows and puts the fate of humanity in his hands.

It's due into theaters on April 26, 2013.

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<p>Kanye West</p>

Kanye West

Credit: AP Photo

Kanye West, Rick Ross and DJ Khaled team for 'I Wish You Would'

New track produced by Hit Boy

DJ Khaled has teamed with his famous friends Kanye West and Rick Ross for the brand new "I Wish You Would." 

The repetitive, bass-heavy track has plenty of both rappers, and too many hooks to even count.  Khaled collaborated on the track with white hot producer Hit Boy, who helmed West and Jay-Z's "N*ggas in Paris," but it lacks that song's irresistible quirkiness and joie de vivre.

Listen here:



Kanye kicks things off by doing a dirty, autotuned nursery rhyme, before declaring that "every year gonna our year/every year gonna be my year." Lots of threats follow -- hence the title. It's noticeably darker in tone than Khaled and West's other recent team-up, "Way Too Cold"  (formerly known as "Theraflu"), which had a similar reliance on synths. At one point in the new song, West even says, "We believe in God, but do God believe in us?" This is Kanye in serious mode

Ross comes off even harder than usual (or maybe just trying to sound even harder than usual), but his verse is mostly forgettable.

Khaled also recently created "Take it To the Head" with Drake, Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown. Ross recently collaborated with Nas on "Accident Murderers" as well.

The song is scheduled to appear on Khaled's "Kiss the Ring," which drops August 21.

What do you think of the new track?

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<p>Future of the Left</p>

Future of the Left

Interview: Future Of The Left talk ‘Common Sense’ and the most annoying fans

How does Andy Falkous feel about Denzel Washington and Mclusky song requests?

Earlier this month, Future of the Left released their new album “The Plot Against Common Sense.” You could say, in a way, the band encourages some nonsense, anyway. FotL’s live shows are rowdy, most banter-heavy social events (and yes, they’re more like an event than a traditional concert), a hard rock free-fall through song titles like “Robocop 4 – F*ck Off Robocop” and “adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood.” The Welsh group boasts new members Jimmy Watkins and Julia Ruzicka to round out this eclectic new mix of tunes on ”Common Sense,” which has inspired an increase in dancing at these shows.

Their audience has broadened, too. According to frontman/songwriter and founder of FotL’s former bedrock band Mclusky, they’ve gotten more press opportunities out of this Xtra Mile Recordings deal than they did with their last label, 4AD. They just finished a U.S. tour and plan on returning later this year.
 
Below is an abridged chat I had with the very enteraining Falkous, on his business perspective on label deals, annoying fans, his old songs with Mclusky and film.
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<p>Lady Gaga</p>

Lady Gaga

Credit: AP Photo

Watch: Lady Gaga performs brand new song 'Princess Die' live

Sad song about suicide? Read all the lyrics

Lady Gaga performed a brand new song "Princess Die" for her Melbourne audience this week, and she seemed pretty aware that the tune would head straight to YouTube today.

In her intro, she warned that the song may or may not be on her next new album -- the title which will be announced in September -- and that it's sad, solo tone shouldn't be a reflection on its overall sound. "Princess Die," however, reflects Mother Monster's most "deep and personal thoughts I've ever had."

She emphasized that it was spelled "D-I-E," not "Di," the nickname for England's late Princess Diana, who perished in a car crash in 1997. However, some lines from the song mirror Diana details, particularly with the last verse about paparazzi, the limo and her rich boyfriend. However, the piano-led track points more toward a suicide, or someone who is considering suicide, which may have some folks up in arms.

If Gaga decides to keep this thing slow, it will probably be her darkest song yet. A very odd choice for a roll-out of new material, but OK: she needs that dimension anyway, to get her more intimate with her fans. But let's hope she also has a dance single up her sleeve by time she finally decides to announce some U.S. tour dates.

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<p>The founding Avett Brothers</p>

The founding Avett Brothers

Credit: Universal Republic

Listen: The Avett Brothers unveil new 'Carpenter' album with song 'Live and Die'

HitFix
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Readers
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Folky quintet's first since 2009's 'I and Love and You'

The Avett Brothers are returning with their first album since 2009's "I and Love and You," with "The Carpenter" out on Sept. 11 this year.

The set has been preceded by the first single "Live and Die," which is available for streaming via NPR as of today. The tune goes up for purchase on July 9; it's a style familiar to fans of the band, which has steadily stepped away from rockabilly elements and bluegrass toward more middle-of-the-road, pleasant, folk-inspired pop tunes with their penchant harmonies. This one starts out with a trotting banjo and ends with a chorus that can only be dislodged from your mind with a crowbar.

Listen to "Live and Die" here.

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<p>Far East Movement</p>

Far East Movement

Interview: Far East Movement on ‘Dirty Bass,’ Justin Bieber’s ‘humbleness’

New music video and... another 'G6'

A group with a No. 1 hit song is a tough act to follow, particularly if you’re in that group. Far East Movement earned the top spot with their song “Like a G6” in 2010, and made some headway on radio, too, with “Rocketeer.” Now the hip-hop-loving dance quartet is back with their album “Dirty Bass,” with the hope to achieve some of the same widespread success. Cameos from artists like Tyga, Cassie and freakishly popular Justin Bieber should, y’know, help. 

“Right after ‘G6’ we kept staying on the road and we’d see the crowds and thought, ‘This is crazy.’ But we went into the studio, we didn’t want to think about how we did off the last album, and let’s totally reinvent,” Far East Movement’s Kev Nish said of their newly released album. “That’s what the Beastie Boys would do. We played around with our visuals. When we were touring with Rihanna or [Lil] Wayne, we’d duck right back off stage or on the bus or the backstage and take that energy from the crowd and work it into new ideas.”
 
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<p>Metric</p>

Metric

Interview: Metric on 'Synthetica,' sci-fi, indie labels and 'Twilight' soundtracks

Jimmy Shaw talks about independent freedoms and Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil'

 

Metric's previous album "Fantasies" was a game-changer for the band, and for independent rock artists in general. The Canadian band proved you don't need a major label deal in order to get a song on commercial rock radio, and with optimal placement on a "Twilight Saga" soundtrack as well as on Muse's 2010 tour bill, Metric was playing substantial venues with substantial returns on selling their album. And furthermore, it's (sadly) unique for female-fronted rock bands to achieve as much.
 
On "Synthetica," the band continues to blend its brand of pop with rock, and with a literal vengeance. "If you imagine a nightmarishly fake version of me as a pop star, that's her," singer Emily Haines says of her "Synthetica" persona. "And this record was about me saying, I'm going to give more to the music than ever, but there's no way I'm going to turn into someone like that."  
 
Haines' voice as strong as ever, pushing through hard synth lines and looping guitarwork, engineered by Metric guitarist and producer Jimmy Shaw. "Synthetica" was released last week and bowed at No. 12 on the Billboard 200, a band high-water mark helped by the band's own label deal meshed with Mom + Pop.

Below is my interview with Shaw, on purposeful dichotomies, sci-fi and "Twilight" soundtracks.
 
HitFix: Your album’s been out for a week. Do you read your own press? Do you allow for criticism to affect the way that you operate?
 
Jimmy Shaw: I do my best and not let that stuff get into my head at all because if I did, then basically all my musical ideas would be like a collaboration of all the people that had criticisms of what I was doing, you know?  And it starts to actually not become your voice at all. It starts to become your voice of compromise, and your voice of being scared of being torn down.  Ultimately, as much as I want people to like the music that I make, I’d rather have it stay true to exactly what I want to do than sort of shape it and twist it depending on what random people have said to me over the years, you know?
 
This album is at least partly concept-driven. There’s a lot of pop elements to it, but there’s also kind of a revolt against pop and to that kind of material. Was there a conscious effort to kind of make a record about that --  that lyrically kind of went around and kind of spoke to what it is to be in the rock and pop sphere right now?
 
It wasn’t a conscious effort, but there was something that happened halfway through the record. We didn’t go into the thing with a concept in place on any level at all. It was about halfway through it that we started realizing the sort of theme going on that was really about duplicity of all sorts of things, and the dichotomy between one side and the other of all different things in life, of technology and organics, and synthesis and natural surroundings, and truth and dishonesty, all sorts of things. And really looking at the examination of where do you stand in between all these different things. As we started to notice that becoming more and more of a common thread, we sort of went with it more and more.
 
Yeah, I was thinking of the differences between digital and analog, which is kind of a line in the sand for a lot of producers and bands, too. 
 
Are you guy sci-fi dorks? Do you like science fiction? Is that a theme for you?
 
I mean, I don’t really read science fiction, but then again to be honest I don’t really read very much. I like – it’s not like I’m really into the themes of it but I like the way that certain things, parts of it, make me feel. For me, the aesthetics is slightly more in line with like retro future. I’m not totally into, like, the current Star Trek; do you know what I mean? That’s really not my bag at all, but I really f*cking love “Blade Runner,” like that shit blows my mind. The opening scene of “Blade Runner.” And the movie “Brazil” is one of my favorite things of all time, it’s that kind of weird way they used to see the future before the future actually arrived, and it really doesn’t even look that different. It’s just that we all have iPhones.
 
This deal with Mom + Pop; this is the first time you guys have worked with them. They don’t sign just anybody – artists have to have their own act together -- but you guys obviously don’t sign with just anybody either.
 
That’s true.
 
It seems like this would’ve been a really long negotiation process. Can you tell me a little bit about what it is to work with Mom + Pop, and what you get out of it, instead of doing your own thing? Because you guys kind of set a benchmark as to what you can do as an independent artist.
 
Yeah, well the thing that’s interesting about it is that it really is just an extension of us just doing it on our own. When we set up a sort of worldwide situation for the release of Fantasies,  we were going into America and doing it completely on our own. We literally had no one on the ground in the U.S., no one working the record actually lived in the U.S. and it’s the biggest territory in the world, so that became a real challenge. It became really difficult and it became just sort of like one sort of unnecessary battle that we were fighting the entire time.
 
Thankfully, we fought that battle pretty well and we had more success on that record than we had previously, but there were elements of it that we were just, like, dude. We were battling the wrong battles and our energy could’ve been going into different places. Then Mom + Pop came on board halfway through “Fantasies” and we did the deal about six months in and they sort of jumped on board and kept working with that record all the way to the end. They came to us and recognized that the reason that they were talking to us in the first place is that we obviously knew how to guide our own path. We knew how to steer our ship and we know what we’re doing and we know what we want to do, and we know what we don’t want to do. 
 
They came on board fully willing to not try and replace that, which is what the label does with musicians so often. It’s like, “Okay, great, so now you’ve written a couple of songs, I’m going to tell you how to run your career at this point,” and most of the time they just run it into the ground. For them there was like a real mutual respect in a way. It was like they respected everything we’ve done and how we were doing it, and they didn’t want to f*ck with our process.
 
The relationship is really clear, you know? I don’t want to sound like I was skeptical, but frankly I’m shocked at how much we’re in line with each other right now, and things are running symbiotically. Everyone seems to be having the same ideas of everything. We’re all thinking the same thing, and it’s kind of great.
 
I was wondering if you guys think you’re going to be in that final “Twilight Saga” soundtrack?
 
I highly doubt it because I don’t think they use so many bands twice, but you never really know. You never know.
 
Are you guys in talks or have confirmed anything with any other movie, any other movie soundtrack? Because you do have this sound that lends itself so well to film.
 
Yeah, I agree with that, but not right now. I mean, literally, as it stands right now, I have about 12 days off for the rest of the year, so there’s a – I actually hope something really awesome doesn’t come in because, I mean, I have to have to turn it down.
 
And you have worked on Emily’s solo stuff before; are there any other plans for anybody in the band to do another solo thing after this whole record cycle? 
 
I suppose there’s always the possibility. Again, it’s kind of hard to see right now because there’s so much Metric in the near future, that you never really know what you feel like when you come out of that. I did not – I didn’t expect after touring “Fantasies” for two years that I would feel energized and inspired to go in to the studio and start making a record really the next day.
 
That surprises me, too.
 
You know? And I did. So it’s hard to know. Sometimes the turn of events will be like, “Oh my God, I’ve got to get away from these f*cking people for two years.” Or it could be the exact opposite, and be like “Let’s go get a house in the country.”
 

 

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